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How Did Jamaica become so Lawless and Violent?

Basil Waine Kong

Somewhere people feel safe, go out to restaurants and clubs at night with no concern about their safety, but not here in Jamaica. We are afraid. We now live in continual fear of kidnapping and violence. We are forced to bear the unbearable. No issue is more compelling here than the wanton murders committed five times each day—every day. There can be little hope for our country and little joy if these killings continue. In some communities, only the dead smile, glad to be at rest. A business woman is shot in her yard, the son of our Caddie Master is shot four times while he is sitting on his veranda with his family. A police officer is run over while trying to stop a vehicle. Criminals repeatedly breaking into schools to steal computers. What a guaan? Our government seems to have no clue. We are overwhelmed and paralyzed with fear. Perpetrators literally get away with murder in Jamaica as less than a third of homicides are solved.

In 2009, New York City (12 million people) had less than 500 homicides compared to Jamaica (2.5 million) with more than 1,600 murders.

I appeal to you, whether you are a politician who place personal ambitions above the welfare of the country, a Don who terrorize some of our communities, a policeman who practice extra-judicial killings and otherwise abuse your power, a thief with a gun, a member of a gang or just an angry, disrespected or frustrated man or woman, let us send death on a holiday and cultivate forgiveness and harmony. It could become contagious.

If you have been wronged, the atrocity of your reprisal will create a lifetime burden on your soul. A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye will only make us a country of toothless and eyeless people. In the name of God and your tormented countrymen, we beg, beseech and command you: Value human life and stop these murders. Whosoever destroys a single human life is as guilty as if he destroyed the entire world. The victims have children, grand children, mothers, fathers, other family and friends. The impact on their lives is always tragic and endless. Their belly bottom bun. Enough of their blood and tears. Come my friends, it’s not too late; let’s go back to the old Jamaica when everyone reached out to each other and felt safe. Let us rile against this crime. Someone has to stand up and shout “Enough already. We have had enough murders. Children Should Know Their Grand Parents.”

What kind of life are you bequeathing for yourself and your children? Time wounds all criminals. Are you aware that the life expectancy in Jamaica is the shortest for gunmen? You should not be surprised. If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword. While we work on promoting a more just society, give peace a chance. We implore you to stop being the problem and become part of the solution for this great country and the great God we serve.

We have survived slavery, economic meltdowns, earthquakes, train wrecks, hurricanes, floods, droughts, famines and epidemics, but the most tormenting is the tragedy of these senseless murders—cutting short the life of loved ones and all their potential future offspring.

We are a good people with loving arms to hold you, appreciate and nurture you. Give the gift of “peace and love” to each other. We have but one country and one destiny. The murder of any Jamaican diminishes me. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for all of us.

Why do you boast of evil, you mighty man?
You love evil rather than good.
You who are a disgrace in the eyes of God
and grow strong by destroying others
Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin

(Psalm 52)

Bullet Columnist Basil Waine Kong has written several pieces for this journal and especially likes to expound on his favorite subject: his beloved Jamaica. He is a former Atlien (resident of Atlanta GA), and was the CEO of the Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) for 22 years before his retirement in 2008 to return to Jamaica. This article is reprinted with his permission from his blogsite; Coming in From the Cold… Bob Marley

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